Transfer Triumphs & Tribulations
It’s safe to say we’ve seen some real transfer drama during the summer window, for me it has been incredibly entertaining. Sky Sports News always like to make a bit of a circus show of deadline day, but this time it wasn’t just the final day drama; we’ve had statements from players and clubs, huge fees (even by “normal” standards) and even threats of legal action when Liverpool were daft enough to try tapping up a player.
I have to start with the English Premier League. The so called lesser teams have demonstrated how powerful they are now there’s so much TV money. If you look at Southampton, who are historically a selling club, they had a player who publically handed in a transfer request. Virgil van Dijk is obviously a decent defender, but the vast amount of money they The Saints could’ve received for him is nothing compared to their share of the Sky and BT Sport billions. Southampton wanted to keep their player, and even a moronic public statement from the Dutchman wouldn’t sway them. Ten to fifteen years ago this just wouldn’t have happened. Leicester also showed that they weren’t prepared to be bullied into selling their players, Chelsea only managed to get Drinkwater at the last minute, on Leicester’s terms, and Mahrez was considered important enough to command a £40 million fee – that offer didn’t come in so he stayed.
It wasn’t just the smaller teams that dug their heels in this summer, the big boys also stopped their star players leaving. Jose Mourinho wanted Ivan Perisic, nothing was said officially but it was common knowledge, but Inter refused to budge. Rumour has it Perisic will be signing a new deal with the Italian side. Liverpool also managed to hold on to Coutinho, when you consider it was Barcelona chasing him you have to admire their pluck. Arsenal somehow clung on to Alexis Sanchez but obviously, due to the calamitous way they did this, it still seems like a bit of a defeat – I’ll touch on this later. I think these clubs have taken advantage of it being a World Cup year, there’s no way the likes of Sanchez and Coutinho will play within themselves this season. Mahrez has played really well this season despite wanting away, not that Algeria’s qualifying campaign is going anywhere.
Paris Saint German have added some serious quality to their squad; Neymar and Mbappe will dominate Ligue 1 for the next few years, especially if Monaco continue their policy of selling everyone. It’ll be interesting to see how they justify the vast amount of money they spent, I mean in regards to Financial Fair Play (FFP). UEFA have announced that they will be investigating PSG’s summer transfers – it’ll be interesting to see how that develops. Perhaps they’ve found a way around the current rules that English teams can take advantage of, Mbappe has only signed on loan with the option (some outlets have reported this as “obligation”) to purchase next summer for £165 million. I don’t see PSG earning enough legitimate money to get away with this but we’ll see. La Liga have today announced that they’ve complained to UEFA about PSG and Manchester City’s sponsorship deals, that sounds like sour grapes to me but public pressure does work with toothless governing bodies like UEFA.
The usual big spenders in the Premier League have had mixed results in the transfer window. As I mentioned earlier, I was impressed with Liverpool’s bravery in standing firm on keeping Coutinho. Adding Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah to a squad full of energy is going to make a difference for them, too. I do feel that Klopp should’ve looked at most areas of his defence, and perhaps a striker, but Liverpool have a really good attacking line-up this season. Chelsea have really surprised me, the more I watch Nemanja Matic the more I’m amazed they sold him to Manchester United. Yes the Serb is 29, and they’ve brought in 23 year old Bakayoko to replace him, but it seemed unnecessary. Chelsea certainly don’t need the money. The champions’ signings have all been excellent but there does seem to be a slightly negative feeling around Stamford Bridge. I think Mourinho will be pleased with his new boys, Lukaku and Matic have hit the ground running. Also Manchester City will be happy with the additions they’ve made, they were weak in goal and at full-back last season, this has been well addressed. The last minute clambering for Sanchez casts doubt on Guardiola’s happiness with his squad, Raheem Stirling can’t be feeling on top of the world at the moment – his display for England against Malta was testament to that.
Arsenal lead the line when it comes to making a mess of things. Yes they did well keeping hold of Sanchez. Then they bid £90 odd million for Monaco’s Lemar, this was clearly an indicator that Wenger would be willing to flog Sanchez if he could replace him. You MUST make this decision much, much, earlier. The timing was so poor that Lemar has indicated he would’ve considered a move if he had more time to think about it. How can an experienced side like Arsenal get that so wrong? It’s like they forgot when the window ended. This is the season that Wenger needed to spend, the Gunners actually made a profit. Alexandre Lacazette will add some goals but he’ll be another player who doesn’t develop under the current Arsenal boss. Selling Oxlade-Chamberlain, when you explicitly said you wouldn’t, shows the same weakness as their annual January collapse.
All in all it was a fun and eventful window. There are too many deals to speak of; Llorente will do a job for Spurs, Evans to City would’ve been a good signing and even Rooney seems to be doing a decent job at Everton. One thing I did find amazing was the last minute panic, I hope it happens again in January.
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